The following article features coverage from the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Congress 2019. Click here to read more of Oncology Nurse Advisor‘s conference coverage.

British researchers say the issues of stigma patients with HIV and cancer face need to be addressed. In a presentation at ESMO Congress 2019 in Barcelona, Spain, they reported that this dual diagnosis can have a profound and negative effect on patients’ experiences and potentially affect their outcomes.

The team conducted a qualitative study exploring the experiences of HIV-related stigma in clinical cancer care. A growing number of persons living with HIV are living longer and developing cancer; however, there is little data on their experience and quality of care. For this investigation, the researchers employed qualitative research methods to explore the complexity of experiences. They recruited 17 people from sites in London between 2015 and 2017 and conducted semistructured interviews.

People with dual diagnoses of HIV and cancer reported feeling “a sense of difference within cancer services,” noted the researchers. Issues of marginalization were identified and participants discussed barriers involving exclusion from clinical trials, extra infection control precautions, and issues involving sexuality.

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Study findings demonstrated that inadequate knowledge of HIV among health care staff resulted in patients reporting feelings of isolation and dependence on their own resources for navigating the health care system. Managing all the information relating to HIV status was experienced as an additional emotional burden, according to the researchers. “Improvement depends on interventions that acknowledge the shared social narrative and impact of HIV-related stigma so that this burden is not carried by the patient alone,” the researchers stated.


Hainsworth E, Shahmanesh M, Stevenson F. HIV positive and treated for cancer: a qualitative study exploring the experiences of HIV related stigma in the cancer clinical setting. Presented at: ESMO Congress 2019; September 27-October 1, 2019; Barcelona, Spain. Abstract CN46.